Nuclear war? Russia’s Lavrov says: I don’t believe it

  • Lavrov says: There is no nuclear war, I hope
  • The West continues to return to the nuclear issue – Lavrov
  • Russia will never depend on the West again – Lavrov
  • Putin says Russia will come out stronger
  • Lavrov says Russia has markets for its oil and gas

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday he did not believe the conflict in Ukraine would turn into a nuclear war, but warned the United States and Europe that Moscow would no longer want to rely on the West.

The Russian economy is facing its most serious crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 after the West imposed heavy sanctions on nearly the entire Russian financial and business system following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Asked by a Kremlin correspondent for the Russian newspaper Kommersant whether he believed a nuclear war could break out, Lavrov told reporters in Turkey: “I don’t want to believe it, and I don’t believe it.”

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Lavrov, President Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister since 2004, said the nuclear issue was brought up in discussions only by the West, which he said continued to return to nuclear war like Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis.

“Of course, this worries us when the West, like Freud, keeps coming back to this topic,” Lavrov said after talks in Antalya, Turkey, with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Lavrov said talk of a possible Russian attack on the former Soviet Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all now members of the European Union and NATO – “seems to be an old hoax”.

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Russia and the United States have the largest arsenals of nuclear warheads after the Cold War that divided the world for much of the 20th century, pitting the West against the Soviet Union and its allies.

Putin on February 27 ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, citing Western sanctions and aggressive statements by prominent members of the NATO military alliance. Russian officials later cited British comments about a possible confrontation between NATO and Russia.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a press conference following his talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart Ruslan Kazakbayev in Moscow, Russia, March 5, 2022. Sergey Ilnitsky/Paul via Reuters

Putin says a “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary to ensure Russian security after the United States expanded NATO membership to Russia’s borders and backed pro-Western leaders in Kyiv.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and the United States and its European and Asian allies have condemned the Russian invasion. China called for calm.

Now that the West has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia, Lavrov said Moscow is turning away from the West and will deal with the economic consequences.

Lavrov said: “We will come out of this crisis with renewed psychological and conscience: we will have no illusions that the West can be a reliable partner.” “We will do everything in our power to make sure that we never again depend on the West in those areas of our lives that have the greatest meaning for our people.”

In Moscow, Sergei Chemezov, a close ally of Putin, defended Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying that Russia could withstand tough sanctions imposed by the West and emerge victorious in the end.

Speaking to the government about measures to deal with the fallout from the sanctions, Putin said Russia would replace imports by developing domestic markets and would emerge stronger. Read more

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“All this will lead to an increase in our independence, self-sufficiency and sovereignty,” Putin said.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, many people in Russia and the West hoped that the divisions of the Cold War would end.

When asked about the energy sanctions imposed by the United States, Lavrov said that Russia would not try to persuade any buyer to buy its energy.

In an apparent reference to China, the world’s second largest economy, Lavrov said Russia has oil and gas markets.

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(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge) Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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